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Know Your Reason Why

Monday, December 30, 2019
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“Training is always the first thing cut.” How often have you heard (or thought) that phrase?

It’s not a secret that government budgets are tight, with no signs of easing up soon. Are you also chronically understaffed and under resourced" Do you feel like you’re being tested every day? If so, you're not alone.

Indeed, many of our colleagues mention pain points like:

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  • reductions in learning staff
  • learning staff moved to auxiliary HR functions like a retirement office
  • training eliminated altogether.

While we know the positive difference training can make in organizations and try to remain optimistic about doing more with less, lack of resources can still put us on the defensive. We often struggle to find the best path forward.

The first step is to articulate “why.” Although it seems obvious to us working in talent development that learning is important to all organizations, it’s not so clear to others. We need to better convey answers to questions like these:

  • What do we uniquely offer that bolsters an agency’s capabilities to serve the public?
  • To an executive who feels short-staffed with many deadlines, how can learning be the story that runs throughout the organization?
  • Isn’t it the employees’ responsibility to learn what they need in this VUCA world?
  • How do we support all levels of an organization that needs to adapt to truly thrive?

Once TD professionals nail down our “why,” how do we leverage it to gain executive support? Here are some ideas:

  • Speak CFO-talk. Use the data you have on hand to show successes and areas of improvement; don’t wait for an elaborate analytic package. Be sure to relate to others how you have already made adjustments to your business operations—all based on the data.
  • Offer relevant sessions and services like coaching to everyone, not just executives. Obsess over every detail to ensure those experiences go spectacularly well. (Remember to get an executive sponsor for each to pull them in.)
  • Know everything you can about the environment your stakeholders are working in and what their priorities are so you can align your pitch to their needs.
  • Seek testimonials from staff on how training has helped them reach goals and perform better.

What are you experiencing? What have you tried that others can learn from?

MD
About the Author

Marykate Dougherty is with The Treasury Executive Institute, a government shared service providing leadership development and services for over 40 different government agencies.

MZ
About the Author

Michelle Zager is with The Treasury Executive Institute, a government shared service providing leadership development and services for over 40 different government agencies.

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